Originally written for Fandom Fights the Floods. Being posted with their permission.
Just what was going on in Edward's head when Bella stumbled into his world? You're about to find out.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Edward's Rude Awakening
God I'm uncomfortable!
Jasper Hale might be an executive with his fancy office at his own company, but he certainly has lousy taste in sofas. Invite a friend to catch up on some sleep and then all you get is a too short, hard, leather sofa. I remind myself to have a word with Jasper when he appears. After all, it is his fault that I was out all night. Out all night travelling that is. It's been a while since I've seen the early hours. Not that I was ever much of a party animal.
I have a feeling Jasper has an ulterior motive for wanting me to drop by the office. He's been acting a bit coy recently, asking a few questions that aren't in line with our normal buddy chat, questions about my financial situation, about my career prospects, that sort of thing.
I let myself into the office at some point in the early hours. The office is going to be free all morning so I should be able to catch up on my sleep before we were due to meet up later in the day. On this sofa? Yeah, right.
When I glance at my watch, I can't believe it has gone three o'clock already. I must have slept at some point although it doesn't feel that way.
So when the door opens I fake sleep by keeping still, and quiet, hoping to blend in. Only the closest thing I am wearing that matches the decor is my stubble, and that only matches the wallpaper. Playing dead and then jumping out at Jasper just seems the right sort of juvenile thing to do. I can be a complete child with him when the mood takes me.
I hear footsteps and then someone rummaging at the desk. It's even quiet enough in here to hear the scribbling of the pen. Haha- he hasn't noticed me. Just as I am planning to carry out my prank I hear something totally unexpected.
"Crapshitbollocks! Ow ow ow!"
My eyes pop open instantly, my body now on full alert.
That's not Jasper. Unless he turned into a girl and didn't tell me.
I sneak a look. Hmm, I don't think I've seen her around before. I can't really make out much of an image yet as my vision isn't quite as awake as the rest of me. I do see long dark hair and a very red face.
"Well that's what you call a rude awakening!" I can't help but chuckle. She's so embarrassed. Her face is as red as my hair and it's adorable.
What? I don't understand much of what she says. I rub my eyes, realising I'm staring. At least I've kept my chin in contact with the rest of my face, and it hasn't quite hit the floor. Yet. Blame that on the lack of focus due to sleep deprivation. It's too tricky to think and she really needs a reply, if only to let her know that I did hear her in the first place.
It's not an imaginative response, but it's succinct and it doesn't take much effort to think of.
She still looks like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
"I said I'm sorry to disturb you. I just dropped in to leave Jasper a note. I should be getting back."
She scuttles off, faster than a scared crab; almost goes sideways too. Got to give her credit for that. But damn, I've miss the chance to talk with her for longer, focus more and see if my eyes have deceived me or if she really is as cute as her blush. Ah well, I'm sure Jasper must know more about her. I can ask him.
Err, get a grip Edward. What are you on about?
A lady wanders into the office and you want to know more, after what, all of, I glance at my watch involuntarily, 58 seconds of conversation? Not sparkling, witty or intellectual conversation either. Strike one to Edward the Dork.
She isn't the first female to walk past you, talk to you or... well, perhaps she was the first to blush and scuttle like a crab, but... Focus Edward. You have Jasper to talk to and first of all, you need to spruce yourself up a bit.
I stretch, roll off the sofa, shuck off the leather jacket and kick off the trainers. Ugh. Reminder to myself - freshen those trainers up a bit. Or maybe just throw them out. If I can smell 'em... still they suit the overall hobo image I suppose. It's a good thing I kept them on while mystery girl was here – or she would have run away even faster. I pad across to Jasper's bathroom. Yep, he has his own executive bathroom. How he has come up in the world from the snot faced, scrape and scab covered little boy I once rescued from a nettle patch.
After a shower and vigorous towel down I feel much more like myself. I give myself a quick spray and rummage through my bag for a change of clothes. I grab a cup of tea, manage to steal a cereal bar from Lauren's desk, and park myself in Jasper's office again. I know Lauren will find out the snack is gone, but it's fair to say she still owes me.
At least I didn't pinch her chocolate bar. It's what I'd prefer, but 'borrowing' chocolate from a hungry woman does, in my experience, end up in a punishment far worse than death. She'll probably still want to kill me for taking her healthy snack, claiming I forced her to eat chocolate when she's on a diet, and can't you see how many pounds she needs to lose and ... I couldn't help but chuckle to myself. Women really are a strange breed at times.
'What's got you this time?" Jasper's caught me. I hold up the empty wrapper, screw it into a ball and throw it over my shoulder to him. No further explanation needed. He knows all about Lauren's peculiar diet habits.
"Oh good, Bella dropped the tax papers in." Jasper notes as he sits down, loosening his tie and propping his feet up on the desk. Professional in his appearance, but so much more natural in reality. Jasper never has been one of those up-himself stand-offish Directors. He always mucks in. This is his company, I remind myself, and remember how he started it up.
"Bella," I say quietly to myself. "That must be who she was."
"What's that? You saw her earlier? You and your memory. No one can ever walk past you without being logged, memorised and filed away for later reference," Jasper teases.
"Well, I didn't catch her name, but I'd say her cheeks were Ferrari Rosso Red. Yes, I did spot her. No we didn't get to chat, unfortunately."
"Unfortunately? Explain yourself Mr. Cullen."
Sometimes my mouth says what my brain is thinking and forgets to engage the mute button first. This time was one of those. Jasper has this ability to make my subconscious talk.
"J, why are we here?" I try to get to the point and steer him off of this mysterious Bella person.
"Edward, that is a very deep question that has troubled man for ages. But you're here because I want a partner in this business, and I want it to be you. Sorry about the questions these last few days. I think you already bring a lot to this company and I want you to help us expand using your know-how."
Jasper always is one to keep things brief and to the point between us. Wow, a partner in his company. I work mostly freelance, but more and more of my work is through Jasper recently. It is good work, well paid, and we can trust each other. I am not so naive as to not know what being a partner in business means generally; what is getting at me is what it would mean between J and I.
"Wow. Err, thanks. What does that mean? I mean, thanks and can you flesh that out a bit?"
Jasper takes a deep breath and launches into his pitch.
An hour later and I'm sold. I can do this. We can do this. In fact it sounds like fun. Jasper decides to take me on a full tour of the premises. In the past I've only seen his office and the scary receptionist who tries to undress me with her eyes.
As we walk along the floor, he points out an office in the corner. It's the only other private office up here; most of the staff use open-plan workstations. He explains it's used for interviews and for Bella to run the payroll.
I can't help but be intrigued. I need to know more. I tell Jasper how I think I owe the girl an apology for scaring the life out of her by popping up on the sofa earlier. I chuckle and fill him in about how she ran from his office like her backside was on fire. Jasper takes on a stern, protective expression as he tells me about his friend from his college days who is like a sister to him. I listen, intently taking in every detail. I can see a blur of brown hair behind the door and can't stop myself edging closer; my hand is on the door before I know it.
"What are you doing?" Jasper's voice startles me and I take a step back.
"Umm – I think I should say sorry for earlier." I gesture towards Bella's office.
Jasper beams at me.
"Excellent idea! So you should actually. And I can introduce you properly..."
He bounds past me and knocks on the door before firmly pushing it open. Bella is packing up her desk; it looks like we just caught her in time. She has her back to us and doesn't notice our presence until Jasper clears his throat, loudly.
She spins around, flustered. This girl is so jittery! She seems to relax for a second as she clocks Jasper, but then she freezes as her eyes lock with mine. My mouth goes dry.
What is wrong with me?
Luckily Jasper steps in to save the awkward silence.
"I hear you had a bit of a fright earlier. Edward here wanted to apologize for frightening you, although he says you gave him quite a shock with your colourful swear words."
Jasper is grinning at both of us. If I didn't know better I would swear the sneaky bugger is up to something. Bella fidgets awkwardly.
"Sorry, I hurt my toe," she mumbles, not looking me in the eye. "I didn't mean to disturb you. I didn't know you were there."
She is still so awkward. I dig deep and extend my hand with what I hope is a charming smile and not a leer.
"Nothing to apologize for, we were only teasing. Jasper and I go way back. Sorry I haven't introduced myself, I'm Edward Cullen. Jasper tells me your name is Bella?"
She takes my hand in her small one. I try to give her a firm handshake but as our hands touch, I feel a tingly electric shock. We both recoil instantly, startled.
"Sorry, must be static," she mumbles.
She's blushing again! I watch her, fascinated, unable to keep the slight smile off my face. It's so endearing.
"Edward's been travelling." Jasper explains to her. "He only flew in this morning. That's why he was catching up on some sleep earlier. We're going out for drinks later, fancy joining us?"
"Umm, I'd love to, but I really have to get back."
She looks uncomfortable as she turns away from us, grabbing her things and looking to make her escape. I flinch slightly. Am I that repulsive? Or is she just shy? Jasper said they were old friends, I resolve to quiz him later.
"Next time Swan," Jasper folds his arms and stares her down. "We will drag you out if we have to."
"Okay, okay." She holds her hands up in defeat and then gives us a small smile.
Maybe she is just shy? Or has to be somewhere? Who knows? I intend to find out though.
Once we finish the grand tour, the work day is over. The staff have all but disappeared, anxious to get back to their lives. We walk to our cars. I am planning to check into my room at the hotel before drinks.. I realise if I am going to be a partner in this business I had better look at finding somewhere more permanent to stay. Still, the hotel will do for now.
However Jasper has other ideas. He suggests we visit his sister, Rose. I haven't seen Rose in years, but Jasper has kept me updated on how her life has developed. I remember she is divorced with two children, living out at some farm somewhere. Ah why not? A friendly cup of tea and catch up with an old friend is always preferable to a lonely hotel room. As I'm still a bit tired, I agree to hop in Jasper's car. We can retrieve mine later.
I lean back in the passenger seat, fiddling with the radio just to piss him off. He slaps at my hand, laughing. Some things never change with us.
I glance out the window as the busy streets give way to country lanes. This is interesting and totally new to me. I am a bit of a townie. I survey my surroundings, fascinated by the trees and green fields. My thoughts drift though, back to a pretty face with deep brown eyes and permanently pink cheeks...
Aha- I can grill Jasper more about her. Hmm, where to start without seeming like a creepy stalker...
"So...Bella...she seems quite nice. A little jumpy."
I try to sound casual. Jasper seems to buy it and ventures forth some information.
"Yeah, she's lovely. Bella is very shy. She doesn't mix much. Does most of her stuff from home. I only dragged her in today as we needed the help."
Well this explains a few things. The poor timid girl makes an effort to help her friend and ends up being startled out of her skin by a strange man. I shake my head. I really must find a way of making it up to her. Without scaring her. This is going to take some thought.
I brood over this for the rest of the journey, until we turn down a narrow lane into a smart courtyard. I glance around, taking in the green paddocks, neat fences and smart white painted stable block. This really is a lovely place. It even has a small cottage in the grounds. I wonder who lives there? Maybe I could rent it?
Stop it Edward, you're getting ahead of yourself. And do you really want to live out here?
Actually I would. It is so tranquil and fresh and clean here. To be honest, the horses would take some getting used to. I spot one hulking beast peering at me over the fence. I swear it is giving me the evil eye. Hmm, maybe I'll stick to a town apartment after all.
"Edward!" Jasper calls. "Come on droopy drawers – over here."
I snap out of my little daydream and follow him across the very smart stable yard to the pretty stone farmhouse. We walk in, Jasper keenly announcing our arrival.
Rose greets us eagerly. She is just as I remembered. Blonde, beautiful, cool but friendly. She hugs me and welcomes us into her kitchen. We settle around the table with mugs of tea. It's lovely and homey with the children's drawings proudly displayed on the wall.
We catch up, talking about mutual friends and how things have changed over the years. I lean back in my chair, relaxing comfortably. I'm so tired I could almost close my eyes right here. As I am contemplating a nap, I hear footsteps and a shout out from a strangely familiar voice, and suddenly all my senses are on high alert.
"Hey Rose, I really need a drink. You won't believe the day I've had..."
What are the odds? Here she is again. She's dressed in casual clothes and looks warm, a little rumpled and sweaty but …sexy.
I can't take my eyes off her.
Edward Cullen, you are officially in trouble.
So there we are. Hope you enjoyed reading Edward's thoughts. Would you like more? Let me know. Huge thanks to EMCxo and JAustenlover for their sterling beta skills as always.